Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local 2725 who work in waste management and at public hospitals in the U.S. Virgin Islands are calling on the USVI government to end its delay in labor negotiations and processing labor charges for essential public employees.
Underfunding and lack of staffing have caused the Office of Collective Bargaining (OCB) to fall years behind in contract negotiations with many public sector workers. The Waste Management Authority (VIWMA) contract expired in 2019, while the Department of Health and Hospitals contract expired in 2021.
In addition, the Virgin Islands Public Employees Relations Board (PERB), also struck with underfunding and understaffing, routinely takes up to two years to process labor charges. The International Association of Machinists (IAM) represents approximately 87 waste management workers and approximately 32 health and hospital workers in the V.I.
“IAM members in the U.S. Virgin Islands are proud of their work to keep the islands clean and healthy,” said IAM Southern Territory Special Representative John Vigueras, who represents International Association of Machinists members on USVI.
“But with cost of living continuing to rise, our members are having to take second jobs or leave their careers altogether. We call on the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands to take immediate steps to adequately fund the Office of Collective Bargaining and the Public Employees Relations Board and negotiate fair contracts for their public sector workers,” said Vigueras.
The International Association of Machinists has had conversations with USVI officials as well as U.S. Rep. Stacey Plaskett over the past several months about the urgent need to fund the Office of Collective Bargaining and Public Employees Relations Boars.
“The IAM will use every resource necessary to get our members on the U.S. Virgin Islands the strong contracts they deserve,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Rickey Wallace. “It is inexcusable for the government to be holding up negotiations due to their own lack of investment in public sector contract negotiations.”
The International Association of Machinists has a strong and growing presence in the territory, and it recently conducted steward, officer and organizing training for its IAM Local 2725 members on St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John.